Spurred by lockdowns, floods and war in Europe, retail demand for survival supplies is rising steeply in the UK

As Storm Babet battered the UK last month, a niche but growing section of the population could have felt justified in their unusual pursuit: preparing for disaster.

With increasing threats posed by climate breakdown, such as flooding and wildfires, as well as fears over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, “prepping” has elbowed its way into mainstream society. The scenes of empty food shelves caused by panic buying early in the pandemic have exposed Britain’s fragile retail supply chains, and spurred a burgeoning industry that targets people hoarding essentials for the kind of doomsday scenario that lockdowns made more imaginable.

In the US, the industry is well established – Americans spent $11bn (£9bn) preparing for disaster last year. Multinationals such as Amazon and eBay have dedicated categories for prepping. Now, specialist UK stores, high street chains and online shops dealing in leftover military stock are selling pallets of freeze-dried food, wind-up torches and radios, water purifiers and even full nuclear survival kits.

At the less extreme end of the spectrum, consumers are buying sleeping bags and wool blankets because they fear blackouts or simply cannot afford electricity bills in the cost of living crisis.

Read more: TheGuardian

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